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Chinese citizens laid flowers on the Google logo at the company's headquarters in support of the company's decision to stand up to the Chinese government's censorship  (Source: Vincent Thian/Associated Press)

In response to Google's decision to uncensor its search, the Chinese government is accusing Google of espionage and attempting to kick Google's Android OS out of China's phone market.  (Source: Leakdroid.com)
Google President Brin urges President Obama respond to Chinese action and statements

According to the Chinese government, the U.S. is committing a campaign of cyberwarfare against it (its claims echo those voiced by top U.S. armed forces officials, who conversely claim China is carrying out a cyberwarfare effort against the U.S.).  

People’s Daily, the main newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, on Wednesday unleashed serious accusations against Google. In a front-page piece it claims that Google, the second largest search engine in China, and one of the largest companies in the U.S., is colluding with U.S. espionage efforts.

Writes the paper:

For Chinese people, Google is not god, and even if it puts on a full-on show about politics and values, it is still not god.  In fact, Google is not a virgin when it comes to values. Its cooperation and collusion with the U.S. intelligence and security agencies is well-known...All this makes one wonder. Thinking about the United States’ big efforts in recent years to engage in Internet war, perhaps this could be an exploratory pre-dawn battle.

The editorial follows Google's Monday decision to stand up to the Chinese government.  Fed up with cybercrime in China and the country's policy of censoring internet access to a variety of materials, Google defied Chinese regulators by uncensoring its search results in China.  It redirected Chinese visitors from google.cn to its uncensored Hong Kong search site.  The Hong Kong site uses the same simplified Chinese characters that the mainland uses and thus is readable to those in mainland China.

As of Tuesday the site was still not blocked, but most observers believe that the Chinese government will move to block google.cn or google.com.hk.  Some are astounded at the move by Google.  Former U.S. ambassador to China J. Stapleton Roy, director of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, states, "I don’t understand their calculation.  I do not see how Google could have concluded that they could have faced down the Chinese on a domestic censorship issue."

Google could pay deeply for the move.  China is home to over 155 million smart phone users and that number is growing rapidly.  Contrary to its previous statements, the Chinese government is now moving to ban Google's Android handsets from China.  It is reportedly pressuring telecoms like China Unicom to delay or scrap smart phone offerings that use Google's Android OS.  This could prove a boon to Research in Motion and Apple, the latter of which has seen poor sales of its iPhone in China.

The Chinese government is also pushing telecoms to terminate their search deals with Google, which could boost Microsoft.  Google is expected to lose its 31.3 percent search stake in China's internet market of over 350 million users -- more users than the entire population of the U.S.

The accusations of espionage could also result in charges against Google's 600 China employees.  Google is fearful of this and was careful to say that none of its Chinese employees were involved in the decision to uncensor the search.  Chinese courts might not accept that claim, though.

Google co-founder and president Sergey Brin knows a little about what its like to grow up in an oppressive communist regime.  Brin was born in 1973 in Soviet Russia, but later attended college at Stanford University -- where he met fellow Google co-founder Larry Page.

Brin says that the Obama administration should take action against China rather than avoid the issue.  He stated in an interview with the UK newspaper 
Guardian, "I certainly hope they make it a high priority.  Human rights issues deserve equal time to the trade issues that are high priority now … I hope this gets taken seriously.  Since services and information are our most successful exports, if regulations in China effectively prevent us from being competitive, then they are a trade barrier.

And Brin had some stinging criticism of U.S. rival Microsoft, who has vowed to continue censoring its Chinese search, in cooperation with the government of China.  Says Brin, "I'm very disappointed for them in particular. As I understand, they have effectively no market share – so they essentially spoke against freedom of speech and human rights simply in order to contradict Google."

In China many people are celebrating Google's decision to stand up against censorship.  The logo in front of Google's headquarters was covered in flowers left by supporters.    That support, though, may only serve to further anger Chinese regulators.



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Not sure what this means...
By Moohbear on 3/24/2010 10:03:25 AM , Rating: 5
I'm really astonished Google did pull out of China, forsaking profit. If I was not so cynical, I'd applaud them, but I'm cannot imagine there's not more to it than fighting the good fight... If there is, my hat down for the PR mastery. If there's not, my hat down as well for ethics and value.




RE: Not sure what this means...
By vkelman on 3/24/2010 10:34:49 AM , Rating: 5
Moohbear,
I'm with you here. But whatever hidden motives of Google are or are not, effectively Google supports freedom right now and I applaud them.
Unlike Sergey Brin, I lived for 33 years in communist USSR and therefore know it pretty well. Still, I think Sergey understands and feels it too; after all he has parents who lived most of their life under communists.

I think, that now is a moment to support principles of freedom. I think that now Google is doing that, while Microsoft betrays principles for a possible profit, while is trying to play it down.
Yes, in the past Google censored its search results in China as well. And yes, it's not a simple question, companies might argue, that providing some information to Chinese people is better than not providing it at all and leaving people with crippled info passed by Chinese Communist government. But know, after they were engaged in direct attack on Google servers for obtaining Chinese dissidents' info and on other American companies, after stupid accusation on Google providing espionage for USA government, after unfriendly and unfair attempt to block Android phones, I think it's time for American and other companies to stand up.

I would expect Microsoft, Yahoo!, RIM, Apple to support Google on that matter, rather than to calculate their business interests. And after all, Google is right: that "do not be evil" mantra eventually will give them business advantage as well, because people would trust it more, than they trust Microsoft, Yahoo!, RIM, Apple...

Vladimir Kelman
http://vkelman-blog.blogspot.com/


By TerranMagistrate on 3/24/2010 11:47:17 AM , Rating: 2
Only when the market share and profits descend below a certain threshold do companies begin stand up to this sort of injustice. And especially when the future looks bleak due to unfair government policies that are meant to benefit indigenous companies only. And the rampant theft of intellectual property can only compound this issue.

Obviously, Google weighed their options and made the right decision in the long term.


RE: Not sure what this means...
By superPC on 3/24/2010 11:50:13 AM , Rating: 2
maybe for google it's better to loose china and focus on the rest of the world. at least google goes down fighting and got good press out of it so it is in a better position to conquer the rest of the world outside of china.


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